Posted at 4:14 PM
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to the Open for Business Agenda.
Guest blog post by Alejandro Rodriguez, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary
As the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary, I advise the Deputy Secretary on a range of management, policy and operational issues, and manage the day to day operations of his office. In his role as the Department’s Chief Operating Officer, Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews oversees the management of 12 bureaus and nearly 47,000 employees, and I work closely with these leaders throughout Commerce as they collaborate and share expertise to drive economic growth.
I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, a culturally vibrant city of hard working people on the U.S.-Mexico border. My parents always instilled in me the importance of education, and pushed me to take advantage of the most rigorous courses and activities that the public school system had to offer. I studied government at Harvard University, where I learned alongside a diverse group of students from every background imaginable. I was able to continue my passion for politics and public service that began back in Texas growing up in a political household, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend summer internships in Washington that only solidified my career decision upon graduating.
I’ve been very privileged to observe and be involved with the entire democratic process beginning with political campaigns, to legislating, and now to governing. I’ve worked in the state government in Texas and Massachusetts, on Capitol Hill for Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in Democratic political activities, and now with the Department of Commerce. I am honored to be at Commerce in these pivotal final years of the Obama Administration, where every day I am fortunate to go to work with talented public servants who are committed to implementing our Open for Business Agenda. This strategic plan is focused on increasing U.S. trade and investment, spurring innovation, helping communities and businesses prepare for and prosper in a changing environment, and fueling a data-driven economy. With that mission and a great team to work with, it is a fun and exciting time to be here.
Whenever I meet with young Latinos and others just starting out in their careers or with similar paths, I always encourage them to take risks – accept that internship or job working in a field that you’re passionate about, even if it’s not the exact position or level you were looking for. Putting in the hard work no matter what your job is will get noticed and rewarded, and can only help open up possibilities down the road.
As National Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end, I reflect on the contributions that have been made by past generations, as well as celebrate their accomplishments and the work that still needs to be done. In his proclamation, President Obama said that he was “reminded that as a nation, we are bound by our shared ideals. America's Hispanic community has the same dreams, values, trials, and triumphs of people in every corner of our country, and they show the same grit and determination that have carried us forward for centuries.” Indeed, as the son of an immigrant and a lifelong educator, I have seen this grit and determination firsthand and I can only hope to play even a minor role in continuing to move us forward.